free ebooks

A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Amongst Gipsies that are not tented Gipsies


Gipsy population, at the present

day, I can only adopt the language of the immortal Dominie Sampson, and say, that it must be "prodigious." If we consider the number that appear to have settled in Scotland, the length of time they have been in Scotland, the great amount of white blood that has, by one means or other, been brought into, and mixed up with, the body, and its great natural encrease; the feelings that attach them to their descent--feelings that originate, more properly, within themselves, and feelings that press upon them from without--the various occupations and positions in life in which they are to be found; we cannot set any limit to their number. Gipsies are just like other people; they have their own sets or circles of associates, out of which, as a thing that is almost invariable, they will hide, if not deny, themselves to others of their race, for reasons which have already been given. So almost invariable is this, at the present day, amongst Gipsies that are not tented Gipsies, that, should an English Gipsy come across a settlement of them in America--German Gipsies, for example--and cast his sign, and address them in their own speech, they will pretend not to know what he means, although he sees the Gipsy in their faces and about their dwellings. But should he meet with them away from their homes, and where they are not known, they would answer, and be cheek-by-jowl with him, in a moment. I have found, by personal experience, that the same holds with the French and other continental Gipsies
in America.[283] It is particularly so with the Scottish Gipsies. For these reasons, it seems to be beyond question that the number at which our author estimates them in Scotland, viz., 5,000, must be vastly below the real number. If I were to say 100,000, I do not think I would over-estimate them. The opinion of the Gipsies whom our author questioned was a guess, so far as it referred to the class to which they belonged, or with which they were acquainted; so that, if we take all kinds of Gipsies into account, it would be a very moderate estimate to set the Scottish Gipsies down at 100,000; and those in all the British Isles at 300,000. The number might be double what I have stated. The intelligent English Gipsies say that, in England, they are not only "dreadfully mixed," but extremely numerous. There is not a race of men on the face of the earth more prolific than tented Gipsies; in a word, tented Gipsydom, if I may hazard such an expression, is, comparatively speaking, like a rabbit warren. The rough and uncouth kind of settled Gipsies are likewise very prolific; but the higher classes, as a rule, are by no means so much so. To set down any specific number of Gipsies to be found in the British Isles, would be a thing too arbitrary to serve any purpose; I think sufficient data have been given to enable the intelligent reader to form an opinion for himself.[284]

[283] I very abruptly addressed a French Gipsy, in the streets of New York, thus: "Vous etes un _Romany chiel_." "Oui, monsieur," was the reply which he, as abruptly, gave me. But, ever afterwards, he got cross, when I alluded to the subject. On one occasion, I gave him the sign, which he repeated, while he asked, with much tartness of manner, "What is that--what does it mean?" This was a roguish Gipsy, and was afterwards lodged in jail.

On one occasion, I met with a German cutler, in a place of business, in New York. I felt sure he was a Gipsy, although the world would not have taken him for one. Catching his eye, I commenced to look around the room, from those present to himself, as if there was to be something confidential between us, and then whispered to him, "_Callo chabo_," (Gipsy, or black fellow;) and the effect was instantaneous. I afterwards visited his family, on a Sabbath evening, and took tea with them. They were from Wurtemberg, and appeared very decent people. The mother, a tall, swarthy, fine looking intelligent young woman, said grace, which was repeated by the children, whom I found learning their Sabbath-school lessons. The family regularly attend church. A fair-haired German called, and went to church with the Gipsy himself. What with the appearance of everything about the house, and the fine, clean, and neatly-dressed family of children, I felt very much pleased with my visit.


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us